President Samuel L. Stanley and Dean of Students Timothy Ecklund linked arms with students and faculty members outside the Administration building Thursday afternoon in recognition of the University of Missouri protests.
The demonstration started at the Student Activities Center and students made their way toward the Administration Building, chanting “Black Lives Matter.”
“May I join?” Stanley asked before joining the line of students wearing all black in support of the demonstration.
Speeches were given by students and advisors of clubs and organizations, like Durron Newman, the advisor for the Student African American Brotherhood and the Caribbean Student Organization. Judith Greiman, the chief deputy to the president of Stony Brook University, also attended.
“Why are we doing this?” Randy Ferguson, a participant in the demonstration, said. “Because we matter. I want this event to bring everyone back to the basics and make people understand black and Latino unity on campus.”
The demonstration was conducted in honor of the students protesting racial inequality at the University of Missouri. Seventy-seven percent of the student population is white, according to the University of Missouri website.
“We want to see things change for the African American student body here because they aren’t really given as much as other races are, which is an issue because everyone should be given the same amount of love, respect,” Shantia McCarthur, a junior business major and one of the event’s organizers, said. “Not black or white or Asian or Spanish, just one person.”
One student held a sign with “#InSolidarityWithMizzou” and “#ConcernedStudent1950” written in red marker. The name of the movement at Missouri, Concerned Student 1950, refers to the first year black students were admitted to the University of Missouri.
At the beginning of the fall semester, the president of the student body at the University of Missouri, Payton Head, posted on Facebook that fellow students had shouted racial slurs at him, according to ABC News. ABC also reported that a swastika was drawn with feces in a dorm bathroom.
Protests followed, but it was not until the movement grew and multiple members of the football team refused to play that University of Missouri System President Tim Wolfe reacted to calls for his resignation. Wolfe resigned on Nov. 9, and the university announced today that it has put in place interim president Michael Middleton, who is black, according to a University of Missouri news release. University of Missouri chancellor R. Bowen Loftin also resigned in response to the movement and is now the director of the development of research facilities.
At Stony Brook, the hashtag #sbu4mizzou has over 100 posts on Instagram, calling for people to wear black and stand in solidarity with the Concerned Student 1950 movement.
Stanley stood with participants and took photos with groups of students after the protest concluded.
“I think it was very impressive,” Stanley said. “What happened in Missouri has galvanized campuses again as it should. I am glad to see that Stony Brook students are engaged and involved.”
Joddie Lyalekhue, senior business major and event organizer, told the crowd that the demonstration was not only in support of Missouri, but it was also meant to help black Stony Brook students receive what they need on campus, such as free tutoring. Ecklund expressed the same sentiment.
“I’m the Dean of Students,” Ecklund said. “Their issues are my issues.”
Kelly Saberi contributed reporting to this story.